Cycle/Ammonia issues (cycling newbie!!)
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Cycle/Ammonia issues (cycling newbie!!)

This is a discussion on Cycle/Ammonia issues (cycling newbie!!) within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Hello. I'm attempting to properly cycle a 20G long tank in hopes of it being a home to 10 female bettas in a "sorority". ...

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Cycle/Ammonia issues (cycling newbie!!)
Old 01-23-2012, 02:49 PM   #1
 
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Cycle/Ammonia issues (cycling newbie!!)

Hello. I'm attempting to properly cycle a 20G long tank in hopes of it being a home to 10 female bettas in a "sorority".
My problem to start with is with ammonia possibly in my tap. First day I filled the tank up (with treated water) ammonia was testing at .50-1.0. I assume freshly treated water should be at 0, correct? I am using Prime water conditioner.
I was told Prime doesn't remove ammonia but actually turns it into ammonium and that is what my test is showing?
I am using API Ammonia (tube) test.
After several days I went ahead and added shrimp to the tank to start the "cycle" but I honestly have no clue if it will work.
My question is how can I know how much ammonia is truly in my tank if the test is (possibly) inaccurate?
When should I start doing water changes?
Are there any other members here that deal with ammonia issues like this?
thank you for your help!
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:01 PM   #2
 
The change is only temporary. It will revert back to toxic ammonia in 48 hours or less. I would do a test on your tap water to find out for sure. Some places do have ammonia in their tap water.

Having live plants may be mandatory for you if this is the case. They will absorb the ammonia(or ammonium) rapidly before it can damage the fish.
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:46 PM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladayen View Post
The change is only temporary. It will revert back to toxic ammonia in 48 hours or less. I would do a test on your tap water to find out for sure. Some places do have ammonia in their tap water.

Having live plants may be mandatory for you if this is the case. They will absorb the ammonia(or ammonium) rapidly before it can damage the fish.
I'm thinking the same thing. Although I'm a little daunted by the idea of successfully growing aquarium plants, its something I've considered for some time. I do have 3 in another tank right now - which i got from a pet store. I'm thinking of ordering from a good plant store though. I'm just afraid I'll do so and then end up killing the plants. But I figure I can put several in my 20 G and see how it works out. Of course I'll be doing a lot of research on them too.
The 3 I have in my other tank are just planted in sand - will that substrate work?
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Old 01-23-2012, 03:54 PM   #4
 
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You would be better off dosing with pure ammonia which you can find from ACE hardware in the US.

Dose the tank to 2ppm and keep adding it for a few days,

This way you will build a massive bacteria colony straight away and once your cycle is complete can fully stock the tank.

I dont like people using the shrimp method...as it tends to not lead to large bacteria colonies. It does work but it is also the visual aspect of having to watch a shrimp rot away, not to mention it can stink!

Do not put plants in the tank until the ammonia is under control or zero as you risk killing the plants. Ammonia can easily cause a plant to die.
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:07 PM   #5
 
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I thought plants live off ammonia?
Last I checked my ammonia was still about 1.0PPM. I have 1 shrimp in there inside a "panty-hose" sock - got my info from the cycling sticky on this site.
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:26 PM   #6
 
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During the cycling of an aquarium the ammonia level will likely increase to a level that is even bad for plants. It can be done but it is best not to.

The plants consume ammonia / nitrites...however, you want the bacteria to convert these not the plants. The plants will not help much once fish are introduced as there will hardly enough bacteria, it can give you a false sense the cycle has completed.
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:05 PM   #7
 
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Picking up on ladayen's point, have you tested the tap water alone for ammonia (and nitrite and nitrate for that matter)? It is useful to know if any of these are present, and in what level. From your first post I am thinking ammonia might be in the tap water. This is easy to deal with, but we need to know.

Second, nitrosomonas bacteria will use ammonia and ammonium, which ever is present. So a conditioner like Prime that detoxifies ammonia into ammonium will not affect the cycling. Most test kits read ammonia/ammonium as "ammonia" but Prime and other similar products are effective for 24-48 hours. The pH of the tank water also impacts this; in acidic water ammonia automatically changes into ammonium. You haven't mentioned the pH. If it is basic (above 7), then the ammonium (if still present in the water) will turn back into ammonia once Prime has become ineffective.

On the plants, I agree that if you are dosing ammonia, do not plant the tank. Plants assimilate ammonium directly; with ammonia, it enters the cell by simple diffusion across the membrane, and then combines with a hydrogen ion and converts to ammonium. Ammonium can be stored. Plants can also use the ammonia to synthesize proteins. This is dependent upon the plant species and the number of plants; some can only tolerate up to 1 mg/liter of ammonia, while others can tolerate up to 26 mg/l. This is where fast growing plants are best, because they can use toxic ammonia and combine it with stored carbohydrates to form amino acids; the faster growing the plant, the more carbohydrates it has. Tom Barr once told me that you would have to overstock the aquarium quite a bit before the plants' capacity for taking up ammonia would be reached.

I still prefer plants in new tanks rather than messing with some form of cycling. In more than 15 years I have set up many tanks and never "cycled" any of them. Diana Walstad, a microbiologist, has frequently written of this method, and many now accept it as safe. With sufficient plants, you can set up a new tank with some fish on day one and you will never have ammonia or nitrite at levels that can be detected by our test kits, and the fish will not be adversely affected. It is still the safest method. A nitrification cycle will establish itself, it has to, but without detriment.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 01-24-2012 at 05:47 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:35 PM   #8
 
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Hmmmm ok- I would actually prefer to have a planted tank. And it seems, as long as I can keep the plants alive that its a perfect ecosystem.
I'm considering starting over with a planted tank instead of messing with all this cycling stuff. I believe I do have ammona in my tap water. I've tested it straight from the tap and the results showed between .50-1.0.
I plan on picking up a master testing kit. I do have a nitrate tester but I lost the vial for it, same for the PH - although its been awhile since I tested my PH. I would like to know all of the measurements so thats my next step.
Thank you for your help. I will update with all my results as soon as i can get them
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Old 01-24-2012, 05:51 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjoy79 View Post
Hmmmm ok- I would actually prefer to have a planted tank. And it seems, as long as I can keep the plants alive that its a perfect ecosystem.
I'm considering starting over with a planted tank instead of messing with all this cycling stuff. I believe I do have ammona in my tap water. I've tested it straight from the tap and the results showed between .50-1.0.
I plan on picking up a master testing kit. I do have a nitrate tester but I lost the vial for it, same for the PH - although its been awhile since I tested my PH. I would like to know all of the measurements so thats my next step.
Thank you for your help. I will update with all my results as soon as i can get them
You can use the vial from any test for any other test, provided it has the 5ml marking. All API tests use 5ml of tank water. Just rinse thoroughly under the tap after each test; then rinse it in the tank water before doing the next test.

On that ammonia, once the tank is planted, you will not have issues if you don't do major water changes. Or, you can use a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia; this handles the initial influx, and by the time the conditioner becomes ineffective in a day or two, the plants/bacteria will be well able to handle any residue ammonia.
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